|Bob Burdenski's Latest Annual Giving Departures|
I'm crossing my fingers as I prepare to head to England once again to serve on the faculty of the CASE Spring Insitute in Educational Fundraising. Good luck deserted me last year, when the Iceland volcano canceled my travel plans and left me delivering the annual giving plenary session in my pajamas via Skype at 2 a.m. Chicago time. Hopefully I'll be meeting delegates - from 12 countries - in person this time...
Some other upcoming appearances include the Northeast Annual Giving Conference (see below), a keynote presentation at the Ohio Association of Community Colleges Annual Conference, a full-day workshop for the AFP Western Pennsylvania Chapter in Erie, Pa., and an online Innovations in Annual Giving presentation for CASE Asia Pacific.
Speaking of which, the third Bob book, Innovations in Annual Giving 3.0: The Online Annual Fund is off to the printer in the next few days, and there's a special offer for you below if you'd like to contribute some of your fundraising wisdom to the finished product. Read on below...
There's also a note below if you'd like to join my "Instant Annual Giving Survey Team" via Twitter. From now on, my conference presentations will include questions posed by the audience for online Twitter responders -- instant live feedback from annual giving experts everywhere.
The new U.S. Voluntary Support of Education survey results are in, and show another tick down in alumni support. That means it's time for my annual reminder that some trends are beyond our control, but others are not.
The fundraising times are challenging, but the work of your institution is as important as ever. Best wishes for a marvelous March.
Charitable contributions to colleges and universities in the United States increased 0.5 percent in 2010, reaching $28 billion, according to results of the annual Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey. The findings were released by the Council for Aid to Education (CAE). Adjusted for inflation, giving declined 0.6 percent. Support of higher education institutions is at the same level now as it was in 2006. In inflation-adjusted terms, however, support is 8 percent lower in 2010 than it was in 2006.
Though lackluster, the findings are more sanguine than those of last year, when giving dropped 11.9 percent. The study indicates that the fundraising nadir was reached in 2009 but that a full recovery is yet to materialize. As in the economy as a whole, improvements in higher education giving have been incremental so far.
Alumni giving decreased 0.4 percent. The average alumni gift declined 0.4 percent as well. Alumni participation declined again, too. Participation was 10 percent in 2009 and 9.8 percent in 2010. Nonalumni personal giving declined 1.5 percent. These results, while disappointing, represent a significant improvement from last year's 18 percent drop in alumni giving and 18.4 percent decline in nonalumni personal giving.
The top 20 institutions represent 2 percent of the 996 survey respondents. However, contributions they received account for 25.5 percent of all 2010 gifts to higher education institutions.
In a special program designed specifically for advancement leaders who oversee their institution's annual giving operation, consultant and CASE author Bob Burdenski offers twenty important metrics for evaluating annual giving performance at the Northeast Annual Giving Conference at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY on Wednesday, March 16th.
In addition to asking the staff, "How much money did we raise today?" there are other important numbers to measure: What's your phonathon contact rate? Your FLYBUNT percentage? Your click-throughs? Your RFM scores? In addition, what alumni relations, Internet, and other advancement metrics most directly impact annual giving program results? How can a "good year" in alumni relations most closely impact a "good year" in annual giving. Beyond measuring your annual fund as "not any more worse than anyone else," what are the little numbers that can lead to big number success?
Bob's conducting two other sessions at the conference as well, including a keynote address preview of his third book: Innovations in Annual Giving 3.0: The Online Annual Fund, and a session on young alumni giving strategies. For more information and to RSVP for the conference, follow the link below.
Fewer than 10% of annual giving professionals are eligible for a bonus in their job, according to results from the 2010 Annual Giving Salary Survey. It's a delicate subject, since there are ethical concerns surrounding direct commission-for-funds-raised compensation arrangements. Here are some of the ways that those receiving bonuses described their bonus structure. While some fly close to the ethical trees, others creatively seek to link program goals with bonus compensation:
Bob serves as the moderator of FundList, an ongoing, online fundraising discussion for more than 2,500 development professionals. Each year, Valentine's Day becomes a hot topic among schools with high numbers of alumni couples. While I've not seen a Valentine appeal that significantly outperformed other appeals, many Valentine appeals are accomplishing a variety of relationship-building goals. FundList members shared some of their clever samples for 2011:
A Loyola University of Maryland valentine that invites couples to make a joint gift, and also invites them to a special Valentine's Day renewal ceremony in the campus chapel. "Roses are red, your hearts green and grey. Two greyhounds were joined on your fine wedding day."
Briar Cliff College invites alumni couples to share their love story on the Briar Cliff alumni Facebook page as well as by making a gift to the Alumni Scholarship Fund. "Gravity cannot be held responsible for two people falling in love. - Albert Einstein"
SUNY Geneseo invited joint annual fund gifts, and also invited couples to share "TwitPic" photos of themselves on Twitter. "As one of the 6,000 alumni who have built lives with a fellow Geneseo grad, we imagine you picture Geneseo through a different lens. Your memories of watching sunsets, hurrying across the quad and studying in the library are even more meaningful - because you share them as a couple."
Carroll University asks for a gift with a reminder that "a gift made together counts as support from two alumni, helping strengthen Carroll's alumni participation and making a difference for students."
The University of South Dakota valentine itemizes a number of romance-related expenditures (Dinner and a movie - $40) but notes that "finding love with another USD Alum" is priceless, and "just as the cost of romance has gone up, so too has the cost of a USD education."
It's best not to fool with a retired Latin teacher practiced with a dagger. With her long, brass letter-opener, Ann Grossman slices open the first of the six envelopes that her husband, Butch, has left for her on the living room table of their apartment at Martins Run in Media.
It's from UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.
"Aha," she says.
For the longest time, she had her suspicions about such bulk-mail solicitations. She'd hear from a favorite charity, and if she and her husband could, they'd send off a modest contribution. Within weeks, they'd hear from the charity again.
"I was absolutely astounded at the number of requests we got," recalled the tiny 83-year-old.
So she devised a little experiment: For an entire year, she'd track every letter and phone call, every calendar, pen set, member's card, or certificate of thanks some worthy cause employs to part the Grossmans from their retirement savings.
"Excuse me if I look at my notes," she said Monday afternoon, opening the yellow spiral notebook in which she recorded and classified each pitch. Purple tabs help her determine whether she'd given the organization money before, when, and how much. UNICEF sent her 24 letters last year, according to her records. It called her at least once that she knows of. She last gave to the organization in June. That was when she contributed to two other groups whose fresh pitches arrived Monday: Smile Train (17 letters in 2010) and the American Red Cross (14). Doctors Without Borders (15) received a donation from the Grossmans in September.
This year, she has prepared her own form letter to send back to the organizations. It reads: "Enclosed is our check for -- . Please make a note that this is the ONLY donation which we will make to your organization in 2011. Any more requests shall be unwelcome and unheeded. More solicitations shall be unproductive for you and add needlessly to your costs. In 2010 we recorded -- requests by phone and -- by letter."
There's been lots of debate over the years about providing advance warning to your prospects about your impending phonathon. Give them some kind of pre-call warning, the thinking goes, and you're only guaranteeing that people won't answer the phone.
Likewise, the idea of offering an option of avoiding phone calls has seemed equally unappealing. We miss the opportunity to negotiate a larger gift when we don't speak to someone in person. What's more, we aren't apologizing for wanting to chat with a prospect in person over the phone.
But, is there a point where the number of call attempts becomes annoying to people by just by itself? If people don't want to talk to us, should we keep dialing and dialing?
North Greenwood University is confronting the question head-on with it's new tongue-in-cheek, student designed Web page: www.DonotCallMeAtDinner.org, which features a video of a student apologizing for the many phone calls at dinner time ("But they work," he pleads), and inviting prospects to make their gift online via the Website instead -- thus bypassing the interruptions during their dinner hour.
Does this "online option" compromise the value of a phonathon that still hasgreat value as a source of gift income, or is it an acknowledgment that our dozens of dialings may be off-putting to many would-be donors? Check out the site for yourself.
Bob's third book, Innovations in Annual Giving 3.0: The Online Annual Fund, will feature dozens of examples of real annual giving fundraising strategies utilizing the Internet, social networking, multimedia, cellphone applications and email.
The book will include a Web-based companion site with live Web links to real content, including email appeals, Web pages, Facebook applications, YouTube appeal videos and lots more.
Here's a special offer for you: Answer any or all of the questions below. if Bob uses your quote(s) in the book, he'll send you a free copy in appreciation of your wisdom. In your opinion:
Remember, the point is to make a point, so please elaborate on your answers. Send your responses to Bob via the link below, but hurry. The deadline for submissions is next Friday, March 4th. Be sure to include your name, title and institution for publication.
Tuition Freedom Days have become a popular device on campuses for the purpose of educating students about the fact that tuition only covers a portion of the cost of their education.
A date in the year is symbolically selected to represent the point where tuition dollars end and other sources of funding -- especially philanthropic support -- complete the year's funding of a student's education. If marketed well, such an occasion can raise awareness about alumni gift support -- hopefully planting seeds that will someday yield gifts from today's current students.
Westmont College has one of the better Tuition Freedom day video messages we've seen. Many schools emphasize events and activities on Tuition Freedom Day, sometimes to the neglect of important message points.
The video features fellow students pointing out - with a smile - that tuition only covers two-thirds of a Westmont education. The symbolic two-thirds point of the academic year becomes "Tuition Freedom Day."
Such verbs previously not associated with annual giving have become part of Bob's Innovations in Annual Giving, and Bob's not just talking the talk, he's walking the walk! There are plenty of social networking opportunities to connect with Bob and his ongoing discovery of new annual giving ideas.
Bob is now sending Twitter messages from each conference he attends, sharing the latest innovative annual giving ideas as he discovers them. In addition, Bob's Twitter followers have the opportunity to participate as members of Bob's Instant Annual Giving Survey Team - providing quick real-time, far-flung responses to questions posed by Bob's live presentation audiences. Add your answers and see the results by becoming a Bob follower on Twitter.
In addition, Robert Burdenski Annual Giving is now "receiving fans" via a new Facebook business page. If you've enjoyed Bob's books, speeches, tutorial groups, consulting or any other type of quality time with Bob (you know who you are), "raise your hand" by becoming a fan.
Also, Bob's making a nuisance of himself on LinkedIn, and is now connected with hundreds of annual giving-related professionals world-wide. Wherever your upwardly-mobile career takes you, stay in touch with Bob by connecting on Linked-In.